The Australian dollar is divided into A100¢. Coins are A5¢, A10¢, A20¢, and A50¢ pieces (silver) and A$1 and A$2 pieces (gold). Prices often end in a variant of A1¢ and A2¢ (for example, A78¢ or A$2.71), a relic from the days before 1-cent and 2-cent pieces were phased out. Prices are rounded to the nearest A5¢ -- so A77¢ rounds down to A75¢, and A78¢ rounds up to A80¢. Bank notes come in denominations of A$5, A$10, A$20, A$50, and A$100.
Frommer's lists exact prices in the local currency. However, rates fluctuate, so before departing consult a currency exchange website such as www.oanda.com/currency/converter to check up-to-the-minute rates.
You should consider changing a small amount of money into Australian currency before you leave (though don't expect the exchange rate to be ideal), so you can avoid lines at airport ATMs (automated teller machines). You can exchange money at your local American Express or Thomas Cook office or your bank.
The easiest and best way to get cash away from home is from an ATM (automated teller machine), sometimes referred to as a "cash machine" or a "cashpoint." The Cirrus (tel. 800/424-7787; www.mastercard.com) and PLUS (tel. 800/843-7587; www.visa.com) networks span the globe. Go to your bank card's website to find ATM locations at your destination. Be sure you know your daily withdrawal limit before you depart. Australian ATMs use a four-digit code, so check with your bank and make sure you change yours before you leave. Note: Many banks impose a fee every time you use a card at another bank's ATM, and that fee can be higher for international transactions (A$5 or more) than for domestic ones (rarely more than A$2). In addition, the bank from which you withdraw cash may charge its own fee. For international withdrawal fees, ask your bank.
If you're using a credit card, note that Visa and MasterCard are universally accepted in Australia; American Express and Diners Club are less common; and Discover is not used. Always carry a little cash, because many merchants will not take cards for purchases under A$15 or so.
Beware of hidden credit-card fees while traveling. Check with your credit or debit card issuer to see what fees, if any, will be charged for overseas transactions. Recent reform legislation in the U.S., for example, has curbed some exploitative lending practices. But many banks have responded by increasing fees in other areas, including fees for customers who use credit and debit cards while out of the country -- even if those charges were made in U.S. dollars. Fees can amount to 3% or more of the purchase price. Check with your bank before departing to avoid any surprise charges on your statement.
For help with currency conversions, tip calculations, and more, download Frommer's convenient Travel Tools app for your mobile device. Go to www.frommers.com/go/mobile and click on the Travel Tools icon.
What Things Cost in Sydney (A$)
Taxi from the airport to downtown Sydney 35.00
Double room, moderate 140.00-160.00
Double room, inexpensive 100.00
Three-course dinner for one without wine, moderate 45.00-50.00
Bottle of beer 4.50-6.50
Cup of coffee 3.50-4.00
1 liter of premium gas 1.35
Admission to most museums 10.00
Admission to most national parks 11.00
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.